Other than the Tyrolean Alps, this was my first trip to Italy. For people traveling to Italy, who may be on their first trip, this was my experience.
PRIVATE GUIDE ROME
We used Silvia at “A Friend in Rome” and were extremely happy. She gets my strongest endorsement. If you want to contact her directly or need more info let me know. See my review in the link below.
Don’t take any Euros in advance. There are ATMs everywhere. I use a Schwab One Visa card (debit/credit). They refund all ATM fees, don’t charge any transactions fees on international purchases and give you the best FX rate on ATM and purchases. Make sure to increase your daily withdrawal limit
I have a teenage daughter and am paranoid about safety. We only stayed in tourist areas and never felt unsafe. Pickpockets, however, were everywhere. One tried to steal from my daughter at Trevi. I had to chase him away. The pickpocket scams were easily identified, if you read these pages. Follow all the tips on bags / wallets and you will be fine. Having been to South Africa and Mexico, I can tell you this place is very safe in comparison. Normal big city precautions are in order, but no need to worry.
At the airport there were lots of taxis (set rates), but we always hire a private driver. In Rome, they are almost the same price as a taxi. It seems silly not to hire one. They were waiting for us as we exited baggage claim. Very nice. The hotel arranged one and we arranged our own to the port (Rome Cabs).
We walked, took a cab, or hired a private driver. Call me spoiled, but I took enough busses as a kid and have no interest. They looked very crowded and the pickpocket scams were alive and well. You could stand and watch a crowded bus and see the hand in the pocket, the baby distracting the tourist, the dropped item while someone reached in a pocket. They had a variety of busses and street cars. They appeared to range from very clean to very old. The newer cars on tracks looked very nice. If you are not in a rush, we found everything to be walkable.
I highly recommend staying in the central district. We stayed at the Albergo del Senato, which shares a piazza with the Pantheon. Our friends stayed near Piazza Navona. While there are bigger luxury hotels in other parts of Rome, I think the central district atmosphere was the best imaginable.
This is highly subjective. You can spend years in Rome and not see everything. For us, the 4 days covered the highlights perfectly. Vatican, Coliseum, Forum, Pantheon, Trevi, Spanish Steps, Old Rome, Trasevere, Jewish Ghetto, Borgese, Catacombs, churches, churches, churches. The only formal museums we saw was the Vatican and Borgese (which I highly recommend). The Vatican was crowded, but nice to see. This can take an entire day to see properly, if not more. We found early mornings were a great tiem to see things. Less crowds, cool temps and beautiful scenery.
Do online research. We went to a couple unusual places and loved them. Rome certainly has something that will make your trip unforgettable, to you. Also, get tickets in advance. We avoided every line by advanced purchasing ticketrs. It shocks me how few people do this.
It was hard not to find a quant place to eat. Almost any street restaurant will be acceptable. But, we had a great (Grappolo d'Oro) and terrible one (Antica Trattoria Al Cuppolone). Prepare to eat lots of Gelato. It is hard to resist, as they are everywhere.
We are not night people, but the streets of Old Rome are wonderful to stroll at night. The shops, people overall environment make Rome a beautiful city. Definitely visit the same sights you visited during the day. They have a different and very romantic feel at night. The Piazza Navona and Trevi look very different at night.
We are not big shoppers, so cannot say much here, other than the street vendors are highly negotiable.
A great city and it should be on the top of your list. We focused on the high tourist stuff and found it extremely inviting. Pickpockets aside, we never had any worries and found the Italian people extremely helpful and hospitable.